Six months ago, being snowed in at Christmas with the amazing woman he met on R & R at Fort Riley would have been a dream come true, yet now, as a blizzard swirls outside Beth Tate’s house, Captain Chris Walker knows he shouldn’t be there. Blinded in combat and emotionally scarred, he never wanted Beth to know the man he’s become–but stranded by the storm, he had no one else to call.
Hurt and bewildered when Chris abruptly ended his faithful contact from Afghanistan, Beth tried to put him and their whirlwind romance out of her mind and prepared for a quiet holiday alone–until the phone rang. Now that he’s here, she’s more confused than ever, torn between love for the man she once knew and anger at the one who broke her heart.
A life with Beth was everything Chris wanted, but the wounds of battle are nothing compared to the agony of heartbreak. It will take more than mistletoe, but perhaps this holiday season Chris will find his way home.
The first time I wasn’t home with my family for Thanksgiving was when I was 20 and studying abroad at Oxford. I took a bus down to London to meet up with some college friends who were also away from home and we had a mid-afternoon Thanksgiving dinner hosted by an alumna. It was incredibly generous of her to open her home to us, but she had a real family to feed, and gently ushered us out around five o’clock. We drifted around the city for a while, had a subdued pizza dinner in Soho, and then I made the hour-long bus trip back to Oxford.
At that point, breaking two decades of Thanksgiving tradition felt like an irreparable sacrilege, and if you’d told me at the time that I only had one more hometown Thanksgiving to look forward to I would’ve been horrified. Yet sure enough, we grow and change and our traditions have to adapt. After college I worked in New York City and decided to hoard my vacation days for a longer break over Christmas, and then I moved to London, where trekking all the way home to Kansas was out of the question.
My holiday novella, Hero’s Homecoming, released yesterday from Carina Press as half of the Gifts of Honor military holiday duology. The heroine, Beth, is planning to spend Christmas on her own as her parents have retired and are on a Caribbean cruise, and her sister is stationed in Korea with her air force-officer husband. She has let go of old Christmas traditions and created new ones to suit her changing life – but they fly out the window when she gets a call from Chris, the infantry officer with whom she had a whirlwind romance six months prior, and who broke it off with barely a word.
Chris is heading home for a traditional family Christmas on his parents’ ranch in northern Kansas, and although the festivities will be the same, this year something is very different – two months earlier he was severely wounded in combat, and lost his eyesight as a result. When a blizzard strands him at the regional airport he has no choice but to contact the woman who meant everything, and whom he has to protect from the burden of his disability at all costs.
Neither Chris nor Beth end up having the Christmas they expect – but they both get the homecoming they need.
I had two major milestones this year that will shape my holiday season: I moved to South Africa, and I got married! So this will be my first Christmas away from Kansas, my first one with my husband, and my first one in the southern hemisphere – which means palm trees and 80-degree temperatures on Christmas morning! Of course I’m nostalgic for old traditions, but I’m excited about forming new ones. How have your holiday traditions evolved as you’ve grown older? Are there any you wish you could recapture – or any you’re so glad you created? One commenter will win a free copy of Gifts of Honor!
Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary romance with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City and London, Rebecca recently relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa.